Tuesday, September 11, 2012

154 Monday Musings: Good-byes

154 Monday Musings: Good-byes

Good-byes can mean so many things. Good-byes often come along with some kind of discontinuity, a departure from the usual, a shift from how things are or have been. Good-byes mean separation, distancing, moving away, sometimes permanently. Humankind generally does not like good-byes. All of us are comfortable with certain kind of departures and discontinuities and uncomfortable with other kinds of good-byes. Often the enormity of good-bye is determined by the number of discontinuities it will cause and the number of relationships it will distance us from and what do those relationships mean to us. Adults find good-byes more traumatic because with increasing age they have less and less left to offer to new ones, so a good-bye for them is like an investment gone bad. Their own emotional poverty scares them when its time to say good-bye.  

How does one deal with good-byes? Each one of us has built a certain threshold to good-byes called the good-bye tolerance and a good-bye response mechanism over the lives we have lived. Good-bye tolerance indicates how much of the strain caused by the good-bye are you able to take in your stride. Do good-byes disturb you generally? Does the prospect of going away, separation, and realizing that the presence of people around you, that you had got so used to, almost to the point of believing it to be a permanent presence, causes something to churn inside you - or are you comfortable with the thought. Do you lose sleep and are generally irritated by that thought in an otherwise perfect life? The amiss is inexplicable, the void is undescribable, the vacuum is like a footsore, not fatal but reminding you of an imperfection at every step - the only difference that its an heartsore and not a footsore!!

The good-bye response mechanism is the methods we chose or have practiced to perfection to deal with those changes that come along with good-byes. Some immerse themselves in other pursuits with a vengeance to take their mind away from the turmoil unleashed by the good-bye. Others shut themselves out - withdraw into themselves and try to make themselves 'vulnerability proof'. Some will deny, others will resign. Some will curse, others will squeal. Some will be quiet others will be vocal. Some will express others will hold.  

I have wondered what goes on in the mind and heart of the person undergoing a good-bye. Does he feel the heaviness in his solar plexus, the dryness in his throat, the dullness of his senses, the bottomlessness in his mind, the numbness in his thoughts, the abyss in his heart? Do adults feel the same as adolescents even if they retain the bravado and the aura of self control? Does the calm, the certainty around the eventuality make the feeling of unease any less significant? Finally do you express or do you still remain in control. Adulthood is such a strange business.

I stand at the cusp - the point where one journey ends and the next one begins. There is the burden of a good-bye at this moment that i have to bear. There is a burden of attachment, likings, fondness, respect, awe - and may be a strange concoction of all of the above, which some call love. As i bid good-bye to so many, i want to say to them " I leave behind a part of me with you - hold it with you and i take with me a part of you that i will hold dear". I have said good-byes too many times in life and i tell myself they don't matter and they don't bother me much. I guess i try too hard to tell myself that and betray my  feelings.

Good Bye.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

153 Monday Musings: Doing things differently and more

153 Monday Musings: Doing things differently and more

Shiv Khera brought this to the popular consciousness by declaring that winners did not do different things, but did it differently. I shall not get into whether this describes complete truth or a slice of it, instead i shall recount an instance that caught my fancy recently that bears some  testimony to the above maxim.

We all travel by airlines and listen to the inflight demonstration of safety instructions with ennui and ill concealed disinterest. I would be very surprised if even a frequent flyer will be able to discern the difference between the instructions of any two airlines. The monotone of most announcers and their own apparent lack of conviction in what they are speaking does not help either. It is amidst this banality and undifferentiated mediocrity, one cannot help but notice the script of the IndiGo airlines during their in flight instruction. No wonder they currently rule the skies today and are the largest domestic carrier today. A classic case of doing things differently and benefiting from it. 

The IndiGo announcer would among other things speak about the various languages that the crew speak on that give day. They would also comment that they knew that most of flyers would be disinterested to listen to them that we should still listen to them for our safety. 

What amazes me is not that their script is different from others because of all the elements of the flying experience of an airline, the nature, quality and delivery of the inflight safety instruction is not a differentiator or even a determinant of customer satisfaction. It is precisely for its inherent mundane-ness and a very low pecking order of importance that makes IndiGo's effort to be different even there makes it so notice worthy. 

My lesson goes a bit deeper than 'being different' - be different even when and where people do not expect you to be. Differentiation, the classical strategic concept applied to organisations, products or people has some obvious indicators. The world expects you to be different at the obvious levels. The question is, can we be, retain and sustain 'being different' at levels that no one expects us to be - levels where no one would notice except our own quality consciousness, our own sense of dedication. Probably one reaches that stage when you are not being different for being different sake, but when you create value from being different. Its not showmanship or brownies that you are accumulating, but delivering credible value.

Finally a word of caution - have something different before you claim it or else it will the case of the famous Maggi Hot and Sweet tomato sauce - its been more than a decade that i am searching for what is so 'different' in it - i guess even Javed Jaffri is still searching.